Strange Majik – “Soul Crisis” 2017
David Pattillo aka Strange Majik has firmly established himself as a blues rock icon on the NY scene.
Strange Majik – “Raised On Rock ‘N’ Roll” 2016
David Pattillo aka Strange Majik has created an original vibrant ode to classic rock ‘n’ roll. This eleven song rollick ignites your spirit with soulful snarls, primal howls, and bone rattlin’ riffs straight outta Muscle Shoals or Stax. Whether you’re a old Stones fan or a Lightnin’ Hopkin’s purist, Pattillo will win you over with his urgency and raw power shedding the backwater blues style that schooled the rock bands of the 60s and 70s. Hips shakin’, peace signs pumping, protest signs held high, and long hair swingin’ in the breeze, simplicity and soul is where it’s at in 2016.
Raised on Rock ‘N’ Roll is at times a classic rock record about classic rock. With paeans to Leon Russell and shouts to Jimmy Page, Hendrix, Neil Young, and Ziggy Stardust it’s chock fill of references sure to hook the vintage vinyl junkie. It’s got an Elvis sense of humor and a John Lennon political heart, poking fun at city scenesters in “Cocaine Kisses,” praising tough Texas ladies in “Don’t Mess With The Girl From Texas,” and delivering a scathing philippic in “Workingman 99.”
But all in all it’s Pattillo’s intensity that takes you on the wild ride. Dillon Treacy’s fat back beats keepin ya groovin’ and movin’. Jake Pinto from the eclectric Brooklyn band Emefe channels Ray Charles and Booker T. with his vintage Wurly. Chris Gaskell aka Baby GSauce’s plays super funky, moving from upright bass to electric with ease. Showcase moments go to Geoff Burke on sax who Pattillo borrowed from Harry Connick Jr. Burke has effortless soul in his tenor that keeps the record authentic yet fresh. On “Electrified” the beautiful cascading piano work of Sean Spada recalls Bowie’s Aladdin Sane’s piano genius. It’s an incredibly rich musical record blowing the doors of Americana, blues rock, and retro soul wide open.
A NYC based music producer and songwriter Pattillo has always pushed forward stylistically playing an anomalous role in the alternative rock genre. A few years back when his 2 piece punk blues duo “The Dead Exs” had run its course, he took an excursion into funked out psychedelia with some urban twists in 2015’s “Lights On.” “I made a multi-layered studio record after The Dead Exs “readymades” and was excited with the collaborations of several young singers I discovered. As soon as I finished it though, everyone was asking me to play my blues again! So I started booking gigs downtown playing solo with a boot box.
I got introduced to Chef Paul Gerard who had just opened Belle Reve in Tribeca and he teamed me with a gogo dancer and suddenly Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, and a host of upcoming supermodels were showing up at my shows. Eventually I added a bassist who was just graduating NYU Jazz and he hooked me up with a bunch of his classmates and we started building a band. It just kind of happened naturally… and suddenly a bunch of jazz kids were playing the blues and watching people dance and get crazy on a Tuesday midnight in Tribeca! Who knew?? We were all kind of amazed at the response, quickly building a whole new scene outside the usual East Village throng.”
“The crowds stayed consistent and a year later we are still playing. It’s been pretty wild. I wanted to document the excitement of those 3 hour plus nights of music so I brought the guys in to the studio and we cut the new album. Then Manhattan’s skyrocketing real estate nearly did me in as my studio rent was unexpectedly doubled. I really thought I was done in the business. I was so distraught, but at the last minute like a spiritual Hail Mary pass, the universe came through and got me in a space just a few blocks away with a full live room for my band. We stole away nights and weekends for 6 months crafting out the record while we were continuing to play live every Tuesday. It’s been fairly a chaotic process but great for a workaholic like me.”
“Going to Miami” opens the record with a fat back chitlin’ groove and a gritty guitar riff straight outta Jimmy James and The Blue Flames. One drop of the needle and its BANG! “Listening To Leon” sounds like it could have been a lost Derek And The Dominoes gem. Self deprecating, age wary, slides soaring and riff heavy it’s an infectious rocker worthy of Leon’s praise.
“Don’t Mess With The Girl From Texas” and “Raised on Rock ‘N’ Roll” are two southern tinged anthems full of feathers and flair. Background vocalists Mollie King from Tennessee and Briana Layon from Tulsa bring the swampy southern authenticity here. These two are like an ice cream sandwich with Claudia Lennear hiding in the middle. Classic indeed! Anthony “Flynn” Mullin of the NYC band The Blackfires cameos on rippin’ guitar runs as well. The result is a classic rock standard and an undeniable Texas honky tonk rager.
But then the masterful “Electrified” slows us down to a sexier groove that recalls a vibey JJ Cale moment. A haunting atmosphere eases you into to a plush 16 bar blues with a message. “I had just seen the movie ‘Amy.’ recalls Pattillo and the song just wrote itself. I related to her brutally addictive relationship with her boyfriend that fueled her iconic storylines, which on one hand gave her beautiful songs but eventually destroyed her life.”
“Workingman 99” is a more raw and immediate revisit from the “Lights On” record with Geoff Burke holding down a “Brass Monkey” Beastie’s vibe. No doubt this is one of the most visceral tracks on the record with the entire band working overtime. And its lyrical lefty sensibilities are right on time for this revolutionary election year! “Nolita Strut,” which could be an Allan Toussaint instrumental, along with “If You Got The Time I Got The Love” and “Girl From Texas” originally appeared on The Dead Exs records punkier and loose. But here they have evolved into tighter, punchier, maximum party pleasers. “Cocaine Kisses” keeps the fun going and the humor high with Floridian Greg Holt’s fiddlers nod to Americana coaxing Pattillo’s wit.
“Gone” starts with the dead thump of Pattillo’s foot on the bootbox. GSauce’s upright bass moans like a crawling king snake in the mud. Spada’s piano delivery is dreamy and masterful. Pattillo’s vocal rattles your bones. It’s a long slow ride that delivers. But perhaps the most epic tune on the record is “Pull The Trigger.” From its solitary beginning with Pattillo and his slide guitar on a single mic, this one genuinely reflects our violent often divisive times with a beautiful cameo from the NYC band Walking Shapes frontman, Nathaniel Hoho.
Pattillo shines as an ace songwriter on this record, and not only did he pen all the songs, but engineered, produced and mixed the record too. “I thought this one was going to be fairly easy but it became a huge labor of love and it kept growing. We started tracking the record with just the three of us in the room but then the upbeat songs were missing something. It was a challenge to get the right players and vibe so the band kept growing. I’m really happy with the response from the single and can’t wait for the world to hear the rest of it.”
Back in the 90s Pattillo came to the city to find something better than what he was getting in balmy Florida climes. Music had always been the best way out, and New York had more of it. Pattillo found on a job on the graveyard shift at Green St. Recording, pulling cables while Public Enemy mixed Fear Of A Black Planet and Sonic Youth tracked Goo. He then got an offer for regular hours at Sterling Sound where Madonna, Yoko, Questlove, and Keith Richards frequented the halls. It was an education. That led to a few things, including a producer role on The Beastie Boys Anthology DVD, working alongside Adam Yauch.
After setting out on his own, making music and engineering, he was nominated for an Emmy for the Live From The Artists Den television series, mixing the Alabama Shakes, Ray Lamontagne, and Robert Plant, among others. He discovered and produced the debut album of an up and coming Motown artist for super producer Linda Perry. But he always kept one foot in the clubs, fronting The Dead Exs, singing and crafting a blues guitar finger style and touring some backwater Southern dives with Ray Wylie Hubbard. Whatever it was he was doing, it was about exploration, finding the pulse. He hosted a UK show on Amazing Radio, ferreting out the best underground NYC bands and introducing them to London’s music scene. But it’s the latest stop in his travels that have proven to be the most inspiring, the most unexpected, and, musically, the richest yet.
“I’m so happy to have my weekly Tribeca residency at Belle Reve. It’s enabled me to play my music for new folks every week, get some immediate feedback, and inspire a lot of people to believe in rock ‘n’ roll again. I see all ages come out and it’s heartening to see how much fun everyone is having. There are so many bands in town, but not many that do what we do. I’m just glad people trust in the boys and me to deliver the goods. There’s so much emotion wrapped up in the lyrics and they will cut pretty deep, but there is such a release that happens live for the audience and for me. I feel like Leon Russell on his live record when he says ‘Now if you all don’t feel like you’ve had a religious experience tonight when you leave, you just go get your money back. I don’t need it!’ That may not be the hippest thing to say in indie rock today or the smartest, but with my crowd it just feels right.